Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

Enough is Enough

No matter how great of a parent you are,

there comes a breaking point when you decide enough is enough and you need a break from the kids

no matter how hard they cling to you.

Of course, separation is hard when you’re young

and it’s natural to want to be close to mom (or dad.)

But a good parent is firm in such moments.

and, at the very least, demands that the other parent

help out.

Even in the animal world, kids can turn to dad as a last resort.

Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

A Quiet Sunday Morning

Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

I Seem to Learn Something New Every Outing

When I shot these photos, I thought the parent was feeding a small fish to its chicks. It wasn’t until I saw the shots on the computer I realized the parent was feeding the chicks a feather, not a fish.

Amazingly, both of the juveniles looked eager to get the feather.

When the parent dunked the feather, I thought it was making sure the catch was dead, a common behavior.


There seemed to be much jostling between the chicks, and some trash talking.

One chick seemed to be closest to the feather,

but the other chick ended up eating it after the first chick seemed to lose interest in it.

Not sure whether the chick was begging for another feather or complaining that he had been conned and had wasted all the effort trying to get a fish.

Since I got another shot of grebes feeding feathers to their chicks, I did some research on the internet and discovered that it is a common practice. Researchers seem to be unsure why feathers are consumed but suggest it might help to protect the bird from the bones of the fish they’ve swallowed whole. Having choked on more than a few salmon bones as a kid, that theory made sense to me.


Grebes Feeding Chicks

Although I originally went to Bear River Migratory Refuge to get shots of Avocet chicks, I now look forward to seeing Grebe chicks as much as seeing Avocet chicks. Although we managed to see grebes with chicks, we saw far fewer than we did either time we visited last year. Nevertheless, watching the parents carry the chicks and feed them was definitely a highlight of the trip.

Generally it seems that one parent will bring food back to the parent carrying the chicks, but as I was photographing this family the parent with the chick caught something and proceeded to feed it to the chicks.

As the parent held it in its beak both chicks seemed interested in it,

but one chick definitely seemed hungrier than the other one

and kept its eyes on the prize.

It wasn’t until I was at the computer that I noticed it seemed like both of the chicks may have been actually eating whatever the parent at caught.

The more I observed the grebes feeding chicks the more I wondered how a parent decided which chick to feed. Some chicks seemed larger than their siblings and seemed to eat more of the food. I never saw a parent actually turning and feeding a particular chick; they just seemed to hold the food out in front of them and the chicks tried to eat it.